Howard:No plan to send more troops

Townsville Bulletin - - Just Briefly -

AUS­TRALIA has no plans to send ex­tra troops to Iraq, de­spite sug­ges­tions the US is plan­ning an ex­tra de­ploy­ment, Prime Min­is­ter John Howard says.

‘‘I don’t have any plans to in­crease Aus­tralia’s troop com­mit­ment, nor do I have any plans to re­duce it,’’ Mr Howard said.

The Prime Min­is­ter said he would be no­ti­fied if Pres­i­dent Ge­orge WBush de­cided to send more troops, but it would not mean Aus­tralia would fol­low.

‘‘The sit­u­a­tion at the next elec­tion will de­pend on con­di­tions in Iraq and the one thing we won’t do is be part ofany with­drawal that hands vic­tory to the ter­ror­ists,’’ he said.

But Mr Howard ac­knowl­edged Aus­tralia re­lied on the US and said it was im­por­tant the al­liance con­tin­ued.

‘‘Peo­ple are crit­i­cal of Amer­ica and Pres­i­dent Bush, but in the end, our fu­tures are linked and the strength and power of Amer­ica is im­por­tant to us, es­pe­cially in this part ofthe world,’’ he said.

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